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Shanghai International Film Festival: The 6th Global Film Industry Value Chain Development Forum

I was fortunate to attend the 6th Global Film Industry Value Chain Development Forum in Shanghai recently, the first event in the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF). 

Held at the beautiful Shanghai Jiaotong university campus in Shanghai and well-attended by studio executives, directors, screenwriters and government leaders, the focus of the forum was very much on the developments of the Chinese film industry and how to best develop and grow the nascent Chinese film industry to maturity. 

Topics discussed included: 

  • whether the Chinese film industry should follow the Hollywood style of so-called "industrialisation", where there were five main studios which did everything from set-building to distribution under one roof, or if Chinese companies should concentrate on specialising in what they were good at and focus on collaborating and making films using their specialised skills; 
  • how to go about making good quality movies that could be sold abroad as well as to the Chinese market, and how much of a Chinese signature they should bear (here, mention was made of Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon - as an example of a movie that did not do so well); 
  • whether the focus should be on the international marketing, or, given the relative youth of the Chinese film industry, whether the focus should be on the Chinese internal market first; 
  • on the topic of education and growing talent in particular, questions were raised by panellists as to whether more could be done to help fresh graduates from film school stay in touch with the industry. Many of the industry insiders on the panel lamented that while China did not lack quality students, many of these graduates would leave the film industry soon after finishing their studies for lack of good jobs, good scripts or reliable income; 
  • the importance of staying humble and continuing to learn from established film industries, such as Hollywood.

It was an enriching and eye-opening forum, with interesting points made by both the Chinese and the international panellists of each panel. 

What was particularly interesting was the emphasis on the importance of international cooperation - specifically the continuation of US-China cooperation in the film industry. 

It is clear that China, and the Chinese film industry, has huge potential, whether in the realm of Chinese-made movies or co-productions with international partners. The trick is in perhaps finding the right story (and the right partner) - and isn't that an age-old problem in movie making? 

Speakers from China, the U.S., and Europe identified a need for improvement in screenwriting, production skills, and understanding of international markets as factors that could help Chinese movies to make a global breakthrough.


siff, movies, media, filmfest, china, filminchina, dlapiper, siff2019

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